State police search Derby woods in connection to missing 1-year-old

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Investigators are combing through surveillance video from neighborhoods in Ansonia and Derby, hoping to find clues in the disappearance of 1-year-old Vanessa Morales.

State police searched a heavily wooded area near the parking lot of a church in Derby Friday in connection to the missing child, police say.

Law enforcement searched the woods near the parking lot of St. Michael's Church off Derby Avenue around 12:30 p.m. K-9s were also brought to the scene. Donation bins in the lot are what led police to search a donation sorting facility in Hamden Thursday.

On Monday afternoon, police say they received a call for a welfare check at an Ansonia home on Myrtle Avenue.

Police say the girl's mother, Christine Halloway, 43, was found dead and Morales was missing from the home. She died from blunt force trauma.

An amber alert was issued for Morales on Wednesday, with people in the community passing out flyers about the amber alert Friday. The group included some of Vanessa's family members, Ansonia aldermen, and complete strangers.

"I'm a mom from Ansonia and I feel like it's my duty from Ansonia to help," said Marissa Toth. "If it was my daughter I'd want somebody doing the same thing."

Alderman Joseph Cassetti said he never thought he'd hear the words 'kidnapping' and 'Ansonia' in the same sentence.

"It tears me apart to hear that. Right in the neighborhood where I grew up," he said.

Josh Morales, Vanessa's cousin, was also out in the cold handing out flyers.

"It's a child. It's a 1-year-old kid, you know? It'd break your heart if it was yours, you know what I mean?" he said.

Morales' father was arrested in New Haven Thursday on unrelated charges of being a felon in possession of stun guns, after a search of his home. Police have not named him a suspect and say he is cooperating with investigators.

RELATED: Slain mother of missing child identified as search shifts to donation facility 

RELATED: Amber Alert issued as search continues for missing 1-year-old from Ansonia 







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